Float Days

While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” (Luke 24)Some day’s suspend themselves. This morning feels like it could be one of those days. But it’s early.

Some day’s suspend themselves. This morning feels like it could be one of those days. But it’s early.Do you remember sitting under a tree on a pleasant day? Your back and shoulders curled against the trunk, the back of your head resting on rough bark. You stare past your knees out across the park, your eyes move above the tops of trees and come to rest on a broad swath of sky. You lose track of place and time.

Then, in front of your eyes, floating in the air, no wires or smoke or mirrors, appears a spider. Her body turns slow and easy, her many splayed legs float beside her. And it takes you a moment to come to terms. Until you remember to look for the silk thread.

Back on earth you reach out, pinch off the filament a foot above the spider…an experiment. She spins and releases and drops almost to the ground before you jerk your arm up. She’s suspended again. You wonder how long she could keep this up; but instead the next time she drops you let her reach the grass.

Some days feel like float days. Not bad days, just days were you can’t get any traction.

It was a float day that day the disciples couldn’t quite come to terms with who was appearing to them. They still had a lot of smoke in their eyes from all the excitement and madness of the preceding week. So when their friend walked in the heels of their hands shot up to rub their disbelieving eyes. As their world slowly spun and fell away beneath them, their hearts rose and filled with wonder.

And when the sound of his voice broke the air and the spell, the joy they had been holding back flooded in.

And they ate together. No metaphorical friend-Jesus, no mythological friend-Jesus, only warm dark eyes, scarred flesh, hard ground to sit on, and fish to eat, and conversation that rang in deep in their ears.

On Fishing and Freedom

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” (John 21)

In reading St. John’s epilogue this morning I was reminded of Tom. Tom would sober up for weeks, even months at a time. But the signs of his return to the street were almost always evident. He would begin to drop critical remarks about Hope Mission staff, or about his old street buddies. He would slowly become unforgiving of people around him, and especially of people who tried to care for him. I’m not sure what this was except a sign of his own return to a sense of not-worthy-of-being-forgiven.

Tom is not unique. This oscillation between preening and self-loathing is a primal thing that haunts us all in a thousand ways. And when we lose ground in this inner turf war we fall back on what we know. We stop moving to where we are called.

Peter, after a three year run with Jesus, and then, even after seeing and speaking with the resurrected Jesus, was going back fishing. Only after Jesus grabbed him by the lapels of his toga and shook the forgiveness into him three times did he sense possibility…sense salvation. Only after this did he find the freedom to move out from an old place. In his case, packing in fishing, making a few surprising speeches and basically changing the world. Most of us won’t be called into the drama in quite the same way; in fact, some of us may be called to go fishing. The point is that we find the freedom borne in receiving forgiveness. 

When we live the unforgiven life we stay chained to that ball. But when we sense a love that eclipses all our, ahem, crap; even the crap that we know we’ll step in today, we walk in freedom, or as Luther said, we sin boldly.

Remember Judas? The “problem” with Judas wasn’t that he betrayed Jesus. Every disciple and hanger-on betrayed Jesus. The problem was that Judas believed that his betrayal was uniquely unforgivable. This is the definition of binding despair.

This is not at all like a line in a song Ruthie Foster (she was wonderful by the way) sang at the Jubilee Auditorium last night: “Well I woke up this morning with my mind…stayed on freedom.” When we wake up like that we know something is going right. We know that yet again, we will experience the freeing presence of the risen and forgiving victim. Do I hear a hallelujah!?…Ruthie’s rubbing off.

The Skull

What possesses someone to use a life-size–I assume replica–of a skull as a dash ornament?

Perched on the front dash of a passing white Chevy van, the thing starred me down on my walk to work this morning.

Do they use real skulls for molds to make replicas? Or do the more morbid sculptors of this world know how to sculpt from memory? If they use real skulls, who’s do they use? Which leaves me wondering who it was I saw this morning.

The driver is my real concern however. Well, just a moment, I remember a plastic skeleton, a little larger than a key fob, that I had when I was sixteen. I hung it from the rearview mirror of my $75 Vauxhaul Viva. But no comparison really.

The skull this morning had it’s desired effect–shock value and garnered attention. Obviously…I’m writing about it.

Is it too much to read it as a garish and unimaginative symbol of our culture’s orientation toward death? Yeah probably. But for some reason it’s the way I think.

There are far more subtle and ridiculous signs of our death-wish-orientation. One rather leaky symbol of this orientation is the obsessions and excesses of our desire-for-youthfulness. Something the skull can no longer desire. And in this knowledge, I take my revenge upon the skull for unsettling my morning walk. Take that hollowed-one!

Hope Springs Eternal

Never thought I’d find myself going out of my way to praise our local tabloid. But this morning as I walked by one of the Edmonton Sun’s red dispensers I was delighted to read today’s headline…REBIRTH OF HOPE, and the tagline…Easter from Edmonton to Afghanistan rekindles world spirits. How refreshing.

Of course, a bit confusing was that directly under the headline was a picture of an Oiler fan and seller of Oiler paraphernalia. But the incongruent juxtaposition of headline and picture is something the Sun always does. At least today the picture of a happy and hopeful Oiler fan fits the headline.

So, to the EdSun…credit where credit is due. It’s a rare time that the front page of a newspaper serves to bouy your spirits.

It also seems to me that the grass has turned green overnight. Fitting for resurrection week.

Perhaps Alexander Pope was right. In the face of adversity, whether it’s Detroit or Kandahar, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”